Saturday, August 29, 2009

Face to Face with the Black Doctor!

I decided to take the scavenger hunt seriously, which meant that I had
to find one of the real challenges: a snake stone. First I had to
find out what it was. Apparently it is a stone that you rub on your
skin if you’ve been bitten by a snake. Where to find it? The only
place I coud think of was at a witch doctor’s. So my big quest of the
day was to find a witch doctor. We came across a sign that said:
Face to Face
With the Black Doctor.
Dr. Mushasweni
I knew I had found my man.
We rode down the dirt road: Dave, Nate, Claire and Jolie-Ann were at
my side, and we came across a ton of mud huts, women working, kds
playing, and endless livestock. It turns out that the great Dr.
Mushasweni was an 80-year-old doctor who specialized in local
medicines and surgeries, but was not a witch doctor. I’m not certain
where the difference lay. We learned all about him as his wives
served us tea and bread with honey. He looked to be in his
mid-fifties, had five wives, four mistresses and 62 children. The
village around us were all his family. Nate asked what his secret
was. He said he planted lots of maize. I think that code for sowing
his seed.
Riding with the Lonely Planet guys was great fun. We had managed to
ditch sweep in the morning, and wanted to do the same in the
afternoon, especially since it was Eric – the most reprehensible guy
on tour. When we saw a cute little beer garden, we veered off. The
fellas contemplated getting a haircut. Cartoon pictures were drawn on
the outside wall of the barbershop, with the names of the different
cuts. We had almost convinced Nate to get “The Potato”. It turned
out that was a full head shave.
When we got into camp (our rest day) I was fully depleted. My blood
sugar had dropped, and none of us noticed as we almost zipped right
past the camp. Nate actually had to go and catch David. I headed off
to the mall and actually was able to get money out ofa bank machine.
it was our first mall since Sudan, and the fact that there was a movie
theatre was very exciting. That night I went out to dinner with
everyone – I had walnut and blue cheese salad and steak with gruyere
cheese and mushroom sauce, and a really lovely wine. It was the most
exciting meal I’d had in ages. It was for all of us. We went out to
some clubs with painfully bad music, and went to bed late.
When I woke in the morning I ran into a still-drunk Nick. I helped
him get to the mall (he had sprained his ankle the night before). I
filled him with breakfast and water, and we went to a movie together.
I got him even more water. Siobhan was being quite mean to him. It’s
strange, she’s taken to acting like a nagging mother, though they’re
only about 5 years apart. I figure that it’s his life, and he’s
managing to ride every day, and is always pleasant. Letters from home
got me down, and I spent the rest of the day chilling out, reading and
doing not much of anything.
On the next morning we headed off to Mazabuka. It was only 158 km. I
got off to a bad start. They moved the wake-up time by a half-hour,
and I thought it was a full hour, so I woke up when it was still dark.
At first I couldn’t find my watch, so I grabbed my headlamp and the
batteries were dead, so I grabbed my camera and used the light from
the display to find my watch, and then noticed that my watch batteries
were dead, so I grabbed my broken odometer which was only good for the
clock on it to see what the time was. Welcome to Africa. I got out
of my tent, packed everything, walked ten paces and fell into a hole,
twisting my ankle. It wasn’t a serious twist, but it was painful
enough that after 30km I jumped on the truck. Cars veered to try to
push us off of the road, and the tall grass on either side of the road
provided a double hindrance. First, it didn’t let you see any of the
views (or possible predators), and second, it got into your shorts
when you stopped to pee. I hate tall grass.
We stayed at the Honeymoon Camp. I set up a time-lapse from the top of
the truck since I was there early. They had newly opened a bar there,
so that night we got to hear endless motorcycles coming in, and the
occasional brawl.

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